The Urban Studies Area of the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association invites abstracts for the PCA/ACA National Convention, to be held in New Orleans from April 1 - 4, 2015. The PCA/ACA has a policy of only considering abstracts submitted through the PCA/ACA database (http://ncp.pcaaca.org/) in advance of the November 1 deadline.
Considering this year's location in New Orleans, which Andrei Codrescu has described as "the most overwritten city" in the United States, we are also interested in presentations that add to the existing archive of writing on New Orleans, or make new connections between it and cities in the Gulf, Global, Urban, Sun Belt, and Other Souths.
At the dawn of industrialization in the United States, one of its Framers took a jaundiced perspective on the growing power of urban centers. “Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God,” wrote Thomas Jefferson, “[in] whose breasts He has made his His peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue”. He framed the city as fostering dependency, excessive pleasures, and, most worryingly, a certain European disposition toward tyranny. This conception seems one of the most powerful founding myths of American culture, as evinced by the way “small-town values” and “heartland” rhetoric serve as currency in contemporary politics, despite the fact that these terms are used to solicit the votes of a nation that has not had a majority rural population since the 1910 census.
But why are cities such undesirable locations in American life? In a nation that claims a sacral relationship to an exceptional past, cities are nonetheless quarantined as outside of national conventions, despite the fact that they create circuits of return to a shared history – whether in the unconscious, as in Freud’s account of “uncanny” meandering through the red light district despite his stated desire to avoid it, or in the constant, concrete visual reminders offered by the monuments, markers, and memorials that seem to proliferate in metropolitan space. These visible reminders provide powerful possibilities for analysis of the past, while global protests in the urban streets raise awareness of present and pressing social problems, and the constant specter of urban development and sprawl enable an imminent sense of futurity.
The Urban Studies Area of the PCA/ACA invites completed panels on any dimension of urban life and culture, as well as abstracts for 15 – 20 minute presentations on the real and imagined landscapes of cities, whether in myth or practice, theory or literature, populist politics or popular culture. Topics include, but are not limited to, the following themes in literary and popular representations of urban space:
exiles and expatriates public spheres and public space moral panics and urban violence migrations (great and small) crime and criminality urban planning suburban/urban exchanges queer metropolitans blight and recovery fantasy and futurist metropoles
Submit either completed panel line-ups or 200 – 300 word abstracts to the PCA Database (http://ncp.pcaaca.org/). Send inquiries to Jennie Lightweis-Goff (Urban Studies Area Chair) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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